MasterChef Australia Fans & Faves: What Have The Returning Chefs Been Up To?

MasterChef Fans & Faves kicks off on Easter Monday and it’s exactly the kind of wholesome TV we all need right now.

This season, joining a group of culinary hopefuls will be a handful of MasterChef favourites from across the show’s many seasons. From original MasterChef winner Julie Goodwin to smiling assassin Sashi Chelia, the emotions will be high as these MasterChef icons return to the kitchen.

For some, it has been more than a decade since they last stepped into the MasterChef kitchen, others only a season or two. Here’s what the MasterChef favourites have been up to since they last graced our TV screens.

Aldo Ortado

We first met Aldo during Season 10, where he shared his passion for Italian cuisine. Fans quickly grew a soft spot for him and were devastated when his MasterChef journey was cut short.

Since leaving the MasterChef kitchen, his bubbly personality has seen him feature on multiple cooking segments and hosting cooking classes for a collection of impressive businesses including the Sydney Fish Market, the Italian Wine and Food Festival and Barilla. He has also tried his hand in the restaurateur business hosting some pop-up restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne.

Missing his family in Napoli, Aldo takes solace in sharing his family recipes with Australia and looks forward to taking his second chance at the title of MasterChef.

Alvin Quah

Over a decade ago, Alvin won over Australia in Season 2 with his happy personality, funky glasses and delectable drunken chicken. Since leaving the MasterChef kitchen in sixth place, Alvin has been busy making a name for himself and Malay cuisine.

In hot demand, Alvin has appeared on Channel 10’s The Project and The Circle, and Channel 9’s Kerri-Anne and has contributed regularly to Citysearch’s column ‘Alvin Bites’. He has also appeared at prestigious food events all over Australia.

Boasting an infectiously positive personality, Alvin has been appointed as the ambassador for several companies including Ayam, Australian Pork and Blanco Kitchen Appliances. He also hosted his own TV series Malaysia Kitchen back in 2016 and was a celebrity judge at the Cairns Top Amateur Chef in 2017. With plenty of experience now under his belt, he returns to the MasterChef kitchen hungry for the win.

Billie McKay

Country-girl Billie took out Season 7 back in 2015, winning our hearts and the coveted MasterChef trophy. Impressing more than just the judges, Billie moved to London less than a month after her win to work in Heston Blumenthal’s famed three-Michelin star restaurant, The Fat Duck.

Grateful for the experience, Billie soon returned home deciding that the lifestyle wasn’t for her. She instead pursued her love of cheese-making on the family dairy farm, alongside her parents, sisters and brother. 

Back at home and enjoying the slower pace of life, Billie married her now-husband Hadyn in 2018. The pair have recently welcomed their daughter Ada into the world, who will stay home with Hadyn as they watch Billie take her chance at a second MasterChef win.

Christina Batista

Australia was first introduced to Christina Batista during Season 5 of MasterChef, where she shared her love for Portuguese cooking and 1950s fashion. In an incredible effort, Christina made it to Finals Week before bowing out in fifth place.

Since then, Christina went on to complete work experience at the prestigious Quay restaurant in Sydney before starting her own farmers market stall and catering business.

In an effort to further share her passion for Portuguese cuisine and healthy cooking, Christina has also recently started a TikTok and YouTube channel, Cooking With Christina Batista. With plenty more experience now up her sleeve, Christina intends to take it all the way this season and win the title of MasterChef.

John Carasig

Australia met John during Season 7 of MasterChef, where he showed off his experimental style and talent for precision desserts.

Since then, John has taken some time to develop his understanding of different cuisines. He also started a single origin handcrafted chocolates business Adobo Kitchen Bean To Bar Chocolates which is now relaunching as TSOKOLATE.

Outside of his food endeavors, John and his fiancé Dave started a custom wig business during the pandemic called Human Hair Wigs by Dave. John has also taken his creative flair to sewing outfits for Dave who works as a Drag Queen.

John looks forward to flexing his creativity in the MasterChef kitchen once again and is confident that he has what it takes to  lead the favourites to victory.

Julie Goodwin

Every fan of the show has a soft spot for original MasterChef winner Julie Goodwin who took out the very first trophy over a decade ago. Winning over the hearts of Australia back in 2009, Julie became a household name and has since had a whirlwind career.

After wrapping up with MasterChef, Julie’s honesty, sense of humour and humble cooking style saw her become a TV staple, making appearances on the Today Show and The Project as well as her own cooking show Home Cooked! With Julie Goodwin. She also co-hosted the Central Coast’s Star 104.5FM Breakfast Weekday Show for four years and headed to the South African Jungle to compete on the first season of I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!.

Julie has penned her favourite recipes in a collection of six cookbooks. Her first, Our Family Table, held the number one spot on the book charts for more than 10 weeks. She has also opened her own cooking school on the Central Coast, Julie’s place.

Not one to take her success for granted, Julie recently appeared on the documentary series Could You Survive On The Breadline, where she spent time with people on welfare to highlight the world of poverty and disadvantage experienced by many.

Her career successes aside, Julie has become the proud grandmother of her first grandchild, Delilah, who brings her immense joy. Julie looks forward to challenging herself as she re-enters the MasterChef kitchen this season.

Michael Weldon

It is with thanks to a few of his good mates that we first met Michael, who entered Season 3 of MasterChef on a dare. Impressing Australia and the judges, Michael made it all the way to second place.

Despite falling short of the coveted trophy, Michael’s career has sky-rocketed since leaving the MasterChef kitchen. Taking on every opportunity to develop his culinary skills, Michael worked as a chef for several restaurants across Adelaide. He now works as an ambassador and Senior Development Chef at Coles.

Michael also made recurring appearances on The Cooks Pantry cooking show back in 2017 and in 2019 became co-host of cooking show Farm To Fork with Sarah Todd. Now, with plenty of experience up his sleeve, Michael is determined to reach that final rung on the ladder and take home the MasterChef trophy.

Mindy Woods

It has been 10 years since Mindy last graced our TV screens in Season 4 of MasterChef, where she shared her passion for her food, country and culture.

The former physiotherapist has since taken her time to develop her culinary skills. Taking on a role as the Head Of Culinary Development for the Lotus Group, she climbed the ladder and soon after moved into the role of CEO.

However, a proud Widjabul Wia-bul woman of the Bundjalung nation, Mindy felt called to return to country and made the move from Sydney to Byron with her wife Rachelle in 2020. Back on country, she opened her own venue, Karkalla which features locally sourced, seasonal produce and native indigenous ingredients.

Mindy hopes she can use her time on MasterChef Fans & Faves to further share the food and culture of her heritage.

Minoli De Silva

Minoli is jumping straight back into the deep end, having just left the MasterChef kitchen in 10th place last season. During her time in the competition, she shared her passion for Sri Lankan cuisine and her mother’s delicious curry recipes.

Minoli has since spent her time hosting pop up restaurants and running cooking classes back in her hometown of Darwin. She has also taken to her Instagram to share some of her favourite recipes. Now, with some more experience up her sleeve Minoli is intent on making it all the way to Finals Week.

Sarah Todd

Sarah Todd wowed judges and audiences back in Season 6 of MasterChef and finished in the top ten. Since then, she has been on a whirlwind culinary journey.

Having studied at Le Cordon Bleu and travelled across India, Sarah has been able to develop her unique cooking style. After leaving the competition, she opened her first restaurant in Goa, India which led to a six-part series My Restaurant in India. Soon after she opened a second restaurant in Mumbai and featured in a subsequent sequel My Second Restaurant In India.

Sarah has penned two cookbooks and had the opportunity to headline an all-female AO Chefs Series for the Australian Open. She also took on the opportunity to co-host Farm to Fork alongside Michael Weldon. Also lauding an impressive digital platform, she has been able to collaborate with the likes of Heston Blumental, Marco Pierre White and Ranveer Brar.

All her career successes aside, Sarah’s proudest achievement is her son, Phoenix, who she hopes to celebrate with after taking out the MasterChef Fans & Faves trophy.

Sashi Cheliah

Known as the smiling assassin, Sashi is remembered for surviving several elimination cooks during Season 10 and eventually taking out the trophy.

Since leaving the MasterChef kitchen, Sashi has left his position as a prison officer to open his own restaurant in Adelaide, Gaja by Sashi. Inspired by his heritage, Sashi’s menu showcases the flavours of Indian, Singaporean and Malaysian cuisine.

A passion for food clearly running in the family, Sashi also cheered for his son Ryan who competed in Junior MasterChef Australia in 2020.

Admitting that the pressures of owning a business have stifled his passion for cooking, Sashi looks forward to reigniting that flame as he returns to the MasterChef kitchen this season.

Tommy Pham

Tommy quickly became a fan-favourite during Season 13 of MasterChef where he wowed the judges with fresh Vietnamese-style flavours and made it all the way to seventh place.

Tommy is best known for the success of his Bánh Mì Danish. After leaving the competition he started a delivery-only pop-up patisserie during the 2021 lockdown in Sydney where he sold out of his famous Danish.

Tommy has also relished watching his now two-year-old son Miles grow up alongside his wife Wendy, and hopes to celebrate a MasterChef win with them soon.

MasterChef Australia Fans & Favourites premieres Easter Monday at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 Play on demand